Beyond Once Upon a Time: Fairy Tales arent the Only Thing Needing Catchy Openings
Once a upon a recent time in a galaxy not so far away, I received an e-newsletter that provided valuable dos and don'ts for email newsletter publication. Ah, something about this newsletter didn't pull me in to read its tales nor did I take out the sword to slash my name from the e-newsletter distribution list. Happens to all who inhabit the Kingdom of the Internet; we sign up for an e-newsletter, but rarely read what we receive. These newsletters have value and appeal to me because they address an interest, help me do my job, and / or keep me on top of developments in a hobby.
After a long day of working at the castle, I'm too fatigued to read the e-newsletter. These folks throw more stones in my already heavy email box; it's worse than Publishers Clearinghouse. How often do they send these missives? I don't know, but it seems like every other day there is something from them.
Bullheaded Marketers and Online Naivete
The other day, however, I clicked on the thing and opened it. Suddenly, the plot thickened and I caught myself heeding the call. What was different? Why did I open this newsletter when so many others had been shooed to the trash?
The subject line of the email, "Bullheaded Marketers and Online Naivete" caught my attention first. The second attention-getter was the name listed in the from field, "Online Spin." These two indicated that the content would be edgy, interesting, and even funnier than the King's fool. It hit me that I needed to spend more time composing the subject lines for my own newsletters. A subject line that doesn't reel in the reader like a tall tale makes the rest of the e-newsletter look like a waste of time.
The next noticeable thing was the MSN advertising banner, good news for email newsletters. King Microsoft, by advertising in an online newsletter has obviously realized the newsletter's merit. By advertising, they validate the marketing niche of "If Microsoft is joining exclusive knights of the newsletter round table, I probably can't afford to pass it up," mentality. For many, however, a Microsoft endorsement is a double-edged sword. Recent MSN billing shenanigans, the Microsoft court case, and the general arrogance of the company creates a negative connotation. This negativity spreads to the Web site by association.
The rest of the e-parchment looked slick and professional. Even the opinion box has a good name, Spin Board.
Anatomy of a Bad Opening
The content, however, was another tale of woe. The headlines and section headings grabbed me by my hat, but the stories failed to deliver on the promise of edgy, interesting information. The first sentence read, "Research people out there are looking under the wrong rocks." Huh? Even with the support of the headline, this sentence is vague. Even the all-powerful, all-knowing Merlin wouldn't understand this mystical language.
In scanning the story and trying to discern what it was about, I still didn't understand the article when I finished reading it. Since it didn't tell me up front what I could expect, I tossed the newsletter into the moat. Few writers gain trust the reader's trust only to lead them down a primrose path without revealing the destination. The lesson here is to tell readers what to expect before asking them to commit their time to an article.
A college creative writing instructor used to urge us to state clearly, in the first sentence if possible, what the story was going to be about. Hemingway begins Old Man and the Sea, "He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he and gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish." There's no doubt that this story will be about a man trying to catch a fish. I did take away one thing from this newsletter: take extra care to develop opening sentences that bring the reader in and foretells what the rest of the tale holds.
Meryl K. Evans is the Content Maven behind meryl's notes, eNewsletter Journal, and The Remediator Security Digest. She is also a PC Today columnist and a tour guide at InformIT. She is geared to tackle your editing, writing, content, and process needs. The native Texan resides in Plano, Texas, a heartbeat north of Dallas, and doesn't wear a 10-gallon hat or cowboy boots.
How To Get Started With A Career In Copywriting
Careers in copywriting are booming. Could it be that the new and ever growing market on the Internet has helped to fuel this demand? You can bet your sweet keyword that it has! With so many businesses looking to the internet for their freelance copywriters the demand for employees keeps growing. Likewise, careers in copy writing are being filled more and more with freelance or independent workers. Even those who work right from their home are jumping onto the bandwagon. But, copywriting careers are not all fun and games.
Copywriting Goldmine: One of 20 Insider Secrets to Great Copywriting
Each weekday during my Red Hot Copywriting Bootcamp, attendees (or recruits) get a daily drill designed to reinforce the training I give on weekly phone calls. The drills are illuminating and fun. Plus these drills build your copy from the ground up. By the end of Bootcamp, you actually have a sales letter that would have cost you anywhere from $3,000 to $15,000 to have written professionally.
3 Steps To Better Sales Copywriting
Whether you're wet-behind-the-ears or a seasoned copywriter, your craft will benefit by remembering one thing:
Hook Your Direct Mail Sales Letter Readers With Good Transition Sentences
Anglers in Maine catch trout using dry flies with barbless hooks. Unless they keep tension on the line all the way to the net, they lose the trout. Your sales letters must do the same. But how?
Cause and Effect
"Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect." Ralph Waldo Emerson
Advice for Copywriters: How to Win the Freelance Bidding War
Are you a freelance copywriter working from home? If so, you've probably been on the project bidding war sites, like elance.com. You've probably seen ads like this:
Hey, Client, This Is Me! Sell With Your Writing Voice
In a crowded market, clients will be seeking personality as they read what you've written -- they'll click right past pages that feel "been there, read that." They're looking for a voice that says, "Hey, client, this is me!"
Professional Writing: Six Great Reasons to Hire a Writer
Most people can write. Some can even write well. But only a few individuals can write as quickly and persuasively as a professional writer. Effective communication requires a well-crafted message that is interesting to your audience. Anything less is a waste of your time and money.
How To Take Your Freelance Writing Chances
Your initial freelance writing assignments are the best way to present yourself to your client for repeated work. If you provide for them a good product, at a good price, they are likely to come back time and time again. The goal of any career, particularly as a freelancer, is to have steady business. Instead of continually needing new clients or another job to fill your day, why not utilize repeat business? When you make the most of your freelancing time you are helping yourself to gain more business and maintain that which you already have.
Tomorrow?s Clichés Today
I went to Google and entered a couple of different search terms.
Your Article Headlines will Make or Break Your Business
Most people with an online presence will have to regularly deal with the issue of coming up with an appropriate headline. The problem is that most people do not take it seriously enough. Many do not realize that the headline is so important that no matter how good the content is, it will never get read if the headline does not beckon surfers to it.
Five Sections of Your Copy Guaranteed To Get Read
Only about 20% of your copy is going to get read. The rest will simply be scanned. I'm sure you've heard the statistic before. It's nothing new. While it might sound frightening or frustrating, it's a fact of copywriting life. So what do you do next? Give up? What difference does it make if only about 20% will be read anyway?
Lapsed Donors: How to Write a Fundraising Letter That Wins Them Back
Your definition may differ, but I define a lapsed donor as someone who has not donated to your organization within the last year, two years or three years. Donors who have not sent you a gift in over three years are not lapsed donors. They are former donors.
Writing Effective Sales Copy
Whether you run a home-based business or Microsoft, one thing is always true: products do not sell themselves. So what makes customers buy? Words.
SEO Copywriting: 7 Tips
So you finally built a website for your home-based business. How exciting is that!? Now you just have to let people know you're out there. The best method is to use an SEO copywriting strategy, which optimizes your web content using popular keywords.
Freelance Copywriting Advice #1: Take the Scary Jobs
From time to time you will be faced with an opportunity that looks downright scary.
Copywriting Businesses - How You Can Get Started
Do you have the training and skills needed for copywriting?
How to Write a Direct Mail Fundraising Letter (Four Tips for Fund Raising Success)
1. Address your reader as a friend, not as "Friend."
Is Your Content Provider Selling You Ripped Content?
Ripped content: well the term itself is self explanatory. Content that has been copied from some other site, without any official authority to do so. Although sounds like an extremely trivial issue but is not so, considering the strict copy right laws governing intellectual properties in various countries. Careless usage of such content can thus lead you in some seriously troubled waters and at times involving legalities of more then one country. By the term "content provider" I denote the person, whom you may hire for writing the content of your website, articles or for copywriting a product or service. Let's look at this problem more closely. You are contacted by some person, quite distinctively, through your IM service. The person introduces himself to be a reputed content provider and for credibility also supplies you with some web site addresses he claims to have given the contents for. The final shot, to sweep you from your feet is their rock bottom prices. Any mention about copyrights is brushed aside or circumvented so effortlessly and cleanly that you stand fooled with both eyes open. However, this is the end of the stage one of their plan. Enter part two and you are supplied loads of tweaked and altered or down rightly plagiarized material from numerous sites, all packaged into one installment for you. While you are complimenting yourself about a steal deal, what you don't probably know is that there are laws you have violated and for which you might have to pay a price many fold ? than your steal deal!! Caution- is the word when it comes to hiring content providers or copy writers for your site or products. And there are some unspoken rules within the industry circles. For e.g., a) Before hiring a content provider or a copy writer, always check for their portfolio, those with a site of their own are some how more trust worthy. b) Request and check references, c) Ask for samples of some specific style or format, this shall help you ascertain the quality of the worker. d) Have a clear understanding about copy rights and laws pertaining to the same. e) Expect to go by the prevailing market rates, do not be fooled by throw away prices and always deal only after fair agreements are chalked out. A good way of finding out ripped content is to Google parts of the final works and cross checking the results.
13 Steps to a Slippery Slope Online Sales Letter
Many of the solo professionals whom I coach are people who offer services. They're coaches, consultants, creatives. And many of them are also beginning to sell information products on their Web sites. They're smart to offer a lower-priced alternative to hiring them, and to sell a product that can gain them passive income.
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